Baltimore County Digest

BALTIMORE COUNTY DIGEST

December 13, 2006

Overlea man gets life in slaying, arson

A 34-year-old Overlea man was sentenced yesterday to life in prison without parole for strangling and stabbing to death his upstairs neighbor, whose body was found in the bathtub of her burning apartment.

Ellis Lee Hickman Jr. received a consecutive 30-year sentence for setting the apartment fire.

Many of the friends and relatives of Rakiyya States wept as Baltimore County Circuit Judge Lawrence R. Daniels imposed the sentence. The judge characterized the killing of the 29-year-old woman as "as brutal as it was vicious."

The killing, he said, "was only matched by the cold-blooded, calculating and depraved manner in which [Hickman] attempted to cover up his crime."

Commenting on evidence presented at trial that Hickman sliced off States' fingertips, the judge said, "It is an act so monstrous that it is hard for a person to understand how one could do that to another human being - even one who is no longer living."

Hickman, a truck driver who had studied respiratory care for two years at Florida A&M University, told the judge yesterday that he had nothing to do with States' death - and blamed someone else. He apologized to States' family on that person's behalf.

A jury convicted Hickman in September of first-degree murder, arson and harassment.

In the weeks before States was killed, she told friends that she had found on her car greeting cards with religious messages and signed with an e-mail address. Police traced that address to Hickman.

On Sept. 25, 2005, firefighters extinguished several fires in States' apartment on Mopec Circle before finding her body in a bathtub filled with blood, gasoline and water.

The victim's father, Raoul O. States Sr., told the judge that the death has sent several family members into counseling and left his wife unable to get through Thanksgiving dinner - a meal that she regularly prepared with her daughter. This year, she was rushed in an ambulance to the hospital for psychiatric care.

"There are dates that should be joyous occasions in our life and that will always be drama now," Raoul States said, mentioning the dates of his daughter's death, her funeral, her birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and his and his wife's own birthdays as examples. "We've got six months out of the year that are just months of gloom for us."

He added, "I don't want this to happen to anyone else. I don't think people like him should walk amongst us."

Jennifer McMenamin

Westview

Help sought in finding store robbers

Baltimore County police issued yesterday a second request for the public's help in finding two men suspected of robbing a liquor store last month in the Westview area of the county.

Two men pointed their handguns at employees of the Super Liquors store in the 5600 block of Baltimore National Pike and demanded money in the Nov. 17 robbery, county police said. The men fled after being given an undisclosed amount of cash, police said, adding that victims could not say which way the men went or what they did after leaving the shop.

One gunman is described as a black male, 25 to 30 years old, about 6 feet tall, with a medium build. He wore dark coveralls, sunglasses and a baseball cap, county police said.

The second gunman is described as a black male, 40 to 50 years old, 5 feet, 10 inches tall, with a medium build. He wore a blue hooded sweat shirt, blue jeans and a dark baseball cap, police said.

A Nov. 22 request for information on the men did not develop any meaningful leads, police said yesterday.

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call Baltimore County police at 410-307-2020 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7-LOCKUP.

Events or news items for the Baltimore County Digest may be submitted to baltco.news@baltsun.com. Information should be sent at least 10 days in advance of the event.

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